Archive for the ‘philosophy & politics’ Category

Gay Marriage – A Human Perspective

June 8, 2006

Editor's Note: As some of you may or may not know I am taking my core requirements for my Anthropology degree at a local community college. By doing this is I have reduced my expense in the cost of paying for my degree. However, in order to transfer to a full accredited university, I must meet a certain criteria.

One of those criteria is the requirement of college research English. Why do bring this nostalgic moment up? Once again, the recycled debate of gay marriage has hit the political landscape. Three years ago, when the political savvy elite found fodder in rehashing this a "cultural war" gem as a way to engergize the religious right base, I wrote research for this class. So, I dusted it off and I submit it to you for your appraisal or discussion. One further point, I would like to acknowledge my instructor for all his patience and guidance – Bob O'Connell.

Dateline: June O5, 2006

Warner T. Huston, of the Publius’ Forum, advocates the amending the US Constitution to restrict a personal liberty in order to curtail the “judicial activism.” There is something funny about “judicial activism,” there are only “activist judges” when “they,” the judges, disagrees, most often, with a particular social, cultural, or policy in the opinion of the dissenter, whether they are Left, or Right.

For instance, conservatives (and some right thinking Lefties) railed when the US Supreme Court ruled that in Connecticut that it was okay in the view of public policy to condemn a private citizen’s property in lieu of a corporate entity. On the other hand, the liberals were dismayed when again, the US Supreme Court, ruled that the Ku Klux Klan have a right to free speech even in the form of what could be considered “hate speech.”

The opinion of the judiciary is sometime behind the curve (think Jim Crow laws) and sometimes ahead (think Roe v Wade); nonetheless, “judicial activism” is in the eye of the beholder. Which brings me to another point of consideration of Warner’s discourse, that the restriction of personal liberty, and I must add, “Of consenting adults” as necessity to combat the social mores of a US citizen. To restrict freedom only invites a festering dissension and resentment. At present, although not sanctioned by law, same-sex marriage is not banned. This should remain a state issue, to cede authority to federal government gives more power to the Executive, US Congress, and the US Senate and will be far more difficult to wrest away from the “representative” government when needed.

Furthermore, to have a constitution convention to modify in the current state of patriotic religious fervor would be far more dangerous than the actual amendment. It is fortunate that the Founding Fathers made the modification of the “great experiment” so difficult. The rules state as follows, per the interpretation of the US Senate website.

The Constitution may be amended in two ways. The standard device, used for all amendments so far, is for both houses of Congress to pass by two-thirds vote a proposal, which they send to the states for ratification, either by state legislatures or by conventions within the states. An amendment is ratified when three-fourths of the states approve. The Constitution also authorizes a national convention, when two-thirds of the states petition Congress for such a convention, to propose amendments, which would also have to be ratified by three-quarters of the states.

In these rules we find rationality and temperament, in that, the nation should never rage to the popular movement in order to constraint or advocate without active discourse. In the case of the marriage amendment, cynical political rhetoric was clearly being used to influence, to cajole the far right Christian base of the president in order to energize his base. Overall public clarity saw through this, not because of any public prescience, but the State of the Union is in disarray due in part of missteps of the Executive administration. There may be “a constant statistic” of 70 percent in favor “traditional marriage,” but less than half of those “traditionalist” want an amendment to make it so, and that to has been a “constant statistic.” One final point, there is a reason why Founders separated centralized religion, and that was to save the nation from emotional, irrational, and divisiveness of religion sweeping politics. Fortunately for us, it is just another day in paradise and the devil of emotional chaos and confusion has been left at the doors of Eden…..


Marriage – according to “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (unabridged)” that marriage is “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife” (1384). Furthermore, it also is the institution “whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining family.”

Gay – is defined by the Webster’s dictionary in respect to this paper –“ homosexuals” – relating to, or being a socially integrated group oriented toward and concerned with the welfare of homosexuals (941).

Homosexual ­– is an adjective describing a person who is or “of relating to or marked by sexual interest in the same sex as oneself; and, or relating to, or involving sexual intercourse with members of the same sex. (1085)"

Gay Marriage – is simply the state of being united with a person same sex in a special kind of social, and legal dependence, and possibly for founding and maintaining a family.


So what is the controversy regarding “Gay Marriages?” Could it be that if allowed, Americans might have to accept and acknowledge that gay and lesbians “perceived abnormal behavior” is no more different from a person of color? How can a “normal” uniformed citizenry deny the right of freedom of choice in the 21st century? How can the government? How can religion? The answer is that what is perceived as “normal” by American cultural standards is that one male and one female – heterosexual marriage – are “normal” and nothing outside of the “norm” will be accepted. However, this denial of freedom, of expression, and of choice, even to a “small segment of the people” is a denial to “all the people.” Thus, is the controversy. So, we as a free principled society ask, "Can we as Americans, as a people, look at 'ourselves' in the mirror and truly say that every law abiding American has 'true' freedom of choice?" The simple is, no.

Thesis Statement

Gay marriages should be allowed between two consenting adults, they should be afforded all the privileges that go with it, and the government should lead the way.

Government Opposition

Opposition (1)


Question – Why does the government oppose gay marriages? The simple answer – because its citizenry does. For instance, Charles T. Canady R-Fla., said “lawmakers have responsibility to draw a legal distinction between heterosexual marriages and unions between people of the same sex …What is at stake in this controversy? … Nothing less than our collective moral understanding … of the essential nature of family.” (Idelson) This attitude by the Florida representative gives insight as to where the perceptions of collective heads of our government are regarding gay marriage. Thus, if gay marriages are allowed then the foundation of American society, the family, will be pillaged bringing further decay to an already rotting society. However, there are other reasons behind the government’s opposition: the United States Constitution. Article IV of the United States constitution states that every state must recognize and give with “Full Faith and Credit” to the “public acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings” of other states (Human Events). In other words, if one state were to accept the covenant of same sex marriages then the other 49 states would have to honor the contract of the couple. Thus, the issuing state would be imposing its will on a citizenry that has not voted up or down on whether to recognize gay marriages.

Such a case happened in 1996. A lesbian couple, wanting to have their marriage allowed, went to the Hawaiian Supreme Court, only to have it dropped later in 1999 because of a decisive public referendum. Thus, the public’s outcry for banning gay marriages in 1999 cannot be interpreted as reasoned or thought through but is a result of a core emotional reaction to what it perceives as “normal” by the American public. Moreover, back in 1996 when the possibility of gay marriages might have been formally recognized as legitimate, the United States House of Representatives in July passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Soon after, the United States Senate joined the House on September 10, 1996 in passing DOMA. Moreover, President Clinton signed it into law to help bolster his re-election chances. What is DOMA?

The purpose of DOMA is to amend Article IV, Section 1 of the US Constitution along with Chapter 1 of Title of the US code by adding a new section. The former, Article IV, Section 1 gives the Congress the right to “prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.” Therefore, the US Congress can interpret what is “Full Faith and Credit” for the states. The latter, Chapter 1, Section 7 is an additional segment to the chapter that states, “ … the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Furthermore, “the word ‘spouse’ refers to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife (Human Events).” Therefore, the United States Congress chose to reflect an anxious American public outcry that gay marriages not be allowed in order to preserve the “American family.”

Family Opposition

Opposition (2)

Some would say that the degradation of the family began soon after the French Revolution. Far fetched? In the West, marriage was the Domain of the Roman Catholic Church until the Reformation, and nothing more than a licensed concubinage. According to Kevin Grace (15-16) in his article, “Why Save the Nuclear Family?” the late sociologist Christopher Lasch stated that by the end of the 19th century marriage and family was viewed by American newspapers and magazines as being in crisis. Their view was that with the “rising rate of divorce, the falling birthrate with ‘better sort of people’, the changing role of women, and the ‘so called revolution in morals’” the traditional family could no longer exist with the ever-changing world of modernization. As an example of this, the divorce rate increased fifteen-fold between 1870 and 1920. Nearly one out of seven marriages ended in divorce and with no sign of reversing itself. How does this data support the opposition? Simple, the “revolution” in morals has deconstructed the family sense of community, of “kinship network” (15). With the loss of the family unit, the closeness of the grandparents and cousins for all practical purposes are non-existent, because of the impracticability of modern life. Thus same sex marriages, if allowed, then would virtually emasculate traditional marriage altogether. Moreover, this is the fear of the “conservative” right as well as of the majority of the American public who views homosexuality as “outside” of normal behavior.

However, for the “conservative right” it goes deeper than the loss of normalcy and affects Americans spiritually. Religious leaders have used the events of September 11 to show America’s lack of morals, and that it has contributed to the destruction of the American family. Thereby, if Americans decide to cave into the “gay rights movement” by allowing same-sex marriages, God would then condemn America forever.

Opposition (3)

The Religious Perspective

In the opinion of Dennis Prager, from the Public Interest, in his article "Homosexuality, The Bible, and US – A Jewish Perspective.” Is that “It is impossible for Judaism to make peace with homosexuality, because homosexuality denies most fundamental values … denies life … it denies God … (and) denies (what) the Bible prescribes for all mankind – the family.” He discusses the spiritual and religious reasoning for denying gay marriages.

In fact, he states the allowance of gay marriages would be immoral and that “even if homosexuals have ‘no choice’ we offer our compassion.” However, this does not extend to giving up the “heterosexual marital ideals.” The roles of men and women have been clearly defined as such; it is one of the primary reasons why same sex marriages should not be allowed. Prager points out, that “men need women” and vice versa – stating that “when God solved man’s aloneness by creating one other person, a woman – not a man, not a few women, not a community of men and women.” Meaning that man’s sole purpose, in regards to loneliness, is not found in the function of a community or the same sex, but his completion of being with one woman.

Thus, when men and women marry they become fully human (Prager). Therefore, when God created man, he created both male and female. He created “them” not “you guys” or “you gals.” Therefore, marriage is not only a tribute to God, but to the community as a whole. In addition, when a man gets married to a female he is “choosing life,” meaning that he has chosen to procreate and establish a legacy. In the view of Judaism, homosexuality is death, because it fails to propel the human species forward without additional assistance (Prager).

Furthermore, the homosexual lifestyle for males breeds infidelity, which is more the rule than the exception. Although in the modern era, infidelity is one of the primary reasons for divorce among heterosexual couples. However, this is due to lack of modern morality more than a perceived abnormality. So, what is at stake for religion if tolerance and the resulting laws for gay marriages are allowed? Simply, the foundation of ideals set forth by Judeo-Christian civilization is at stake. In other words, the “sexual behavior (of a society) plays a role in either building or eroding a civilization (Prager).” That behavior is a key to the survival of a civilization.

Ideal Government

Support (1)

The United States is founded on the ideals of individualism, liberty, and freedom. It is the right of every American to pursue happiness. The idea of not allowing a group of people to pursue their “ultimate happiness” is contrary to the establishment of this country. To deny the rights of marriage, simply because of the antiquated notion of what marriage should look like is discriminatory at the least and invidious at the worse. M.D. A. Freeman states that “Overcoming prejudice – which remains at the root of most opposition – will be difficult… If we believe in autonomy … and believe that the institution of marriage is valuable … it is difficult to justify depriving homosexuals and lesbians of this treasured form of human association.” Moreover, to allow murderers, rapists, and those with communicable disease such as HIV-infection or those who suffer from AIDS as well as transvestites or transsexuals to marry, as long as one was born the opposite sex, is inconsistent. The view of the government should be that marriage is the right of every citizen no matter the politics or sexual behavior (Freeman 1-17).

Furthermore, the government should be encouraging gay marriages because its what is good not only for the person, but also good for a community of people. To limit a people by restricting their happiness is intrinsically wrong. According to Freeman, in 1967 when the “state of Virginia was challenged by Loving, it could have argued that the incidents of marriage were designed with same-race marriages in mind.” However, they did not. Why? Because they knew that they had crossed the line. Discrimination is discrimination no matter what forms it tries to disguise itself.

Therefore, the government should lead the people, and enforce the public laws that are currently on the books so that equal opportunity for all people is rightly represented no matter what their sexual orientation. As a group with equal protection under the law, they should be allowed to explore all the possibilities of institutional marriage including that of having a family.

Support (2)

Families Coming Out

What constitutes a family? According to Webster ‘s Third International Dictionary – it is a group of individuals living under one roof – a household; they may share the same ancestry, and have common religious and political views. Simply, family can be a group that shares a common goal from the parent on down to the child or whomever resides within the home.

The “gay-rights movement” sees the worry that most citizens may have regarding children being raised by adults that society considers abnormal. However, the advocates of gay marriage can argue that heterosexual homes fare no better. Some examples of this are the Jerry Springer Show, Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones reflected in the world of pop culture. For instance one Jenny Jones’ show “Teenagers Gone Wild”, discussing teenagers girls and their promiscuity defying their parents rules about school and household rules.

When it comes to family, Americans seem to want to band together on what they perceive a family and marriage is. Whatever the popular culture is reflecting about America, the gay-rights advocates are asking for a major cultural change. However, some states may concede to adopt a new type of institution referred to as a “civil union”; the state of Vermont is the first state to have civil unions (Sullivan). Although civil unions will have all the legal rights as an institutional marriage, many view this step, in the gay-rights movement, as a half measure. Moreover, although civil unions may recognize the partnerships of same-sex commitments, the perceptual view of it will not be same as marriage. Not quite condoning, nor condemning gay marriages. They concede that civil unions however are a step in the right direction. They question whether the public will afford them “all” the opportunities that marriage brings.

For instance – will a gays or lesbians be able to raise their own children how they want, have the right to adopt, take in foster children, or have the opportunity to be Big Brother/Sisters? The continual social stigma of raising a child that has two parents that are of the same-sex can be hard. However, more and more families are coming out of the shadows into the mainstream of public life. In an article in the Newsweek Lifestyle section, once the child has an opportunity to accept their differences from other families they are essentially no worse off than other “normal” families. Although social acceptance of “gay families” has a long way to go, the continual “outing” of families will most likely allow Americans more tolerance for the differences. This may eventually lead to the religious acceptance of gay marriages and same-sex families.

Religious Tolerance

There is a movement afoot, and the foundation seems to be coming from within the chapel itself – tolerance. In an article written by Chris Glasner, he writes a two-fold story; one is set in subtext regarding his homosexuality in the ministry, and the other is the direct message regarding his marriage to his life partner. He discusses back in 1996 how his “calling” and his “marriage” were under attack because of the legal hoopla in Hawaii. In 1996, three gay couples challenged the state of Hawaii regarding the same-sex marriage license status (Kunen). Glasner recalls how this is a cultural issue among heterosexuals and how they “scapegoated the lesbian and gay communities”. He recalls how is family and his biological families came under attack; and, the battle from within his own church regarding the dynamic of gay-marriage and families. The final resolution that was written showed the tolerance within his church and the church congregation. What this story shows is that religion is adaptable, and that doctrine is not always absolute.

However, the real battle for religious acceptance will most likely come in the form of secularism. In other words, the battle for acceptance must come in a form of a three-prong attack. First, the gay-rights movement must persuade legislators that being gay is not hazardous to the public wellness. Secondly, and this is most important, that the coveted institution of marriage will not be undermined. In fact, the institution itself may be better off with the stability of committed lesbians and gay-partners (Freeman). Thirdly, the underlining church and state laws regarding homosexuality sodomy must be separated if the culture of intolerance is to be broken (Clark). Why must the separation of Church and State be torn apart? Answer – because the continued entanglement of Church and State culture will foster the furtherance of intolerance. In addition, as long as the two are tied together the State cannot be swayed out of its long irrationality of tradition. Therefore, the “real harm being gay consists of being the victim of homophobia and heterosexism;” thus the denial to right of marriage (Freeman).

By the publics inculcating homosexuality, they can demoralize the gay-rights movement as a result of not allowing “them” into the fold of normal society. Why? Because those who would deny this inalienable right realize that gay and lesbian partnerships would have the same stabilizing factors as does the heterosexual partnerships with individuals and community. Moreover, the opposition feels that the civil advantages of marriage belong to strictly to the heterosexuals (Clark).

The enculturation of heterosexual marriage is so engrained that the “gay rights” movement must use the popular culture of America to find its acceptance. Therefore, only by exposing the American public to their message can they change the minds of the next generation.


The two sides have many reasons for what “they” believe is valid. For instance, the opposing religious view is that gay marriage is immoral, that it invites death to a civilization. On the other hand, the government is reflecting what the American public wants. Moreover, the opposing family view feels that the exclusivity of what makes up a family should be that of heterosexuals and sees nothing wrong denying its accessibility to “marriage.” While the proponents of gay marriages feel that social acceptance is dependent upon how the government leads it people, and will be the only way that Americans will be more tolerant of “their” lifestyle. Moreover, the proponents of gay-families feel that with their “coming out” that the American culture must find a way to adapt to the differences in families. In addition, with movement within some religious circles towards homosexuals there may be eventual change on the idea of gay marriages.


The success of gay marriages and gay families are solely dependent on three factors: the government, the gay-rights educating the public and finally, the tolerance of religious leaders. The last two will take time and energy, but the first will take a concerted effort by the gay-rights movement to remind the government that “they” are also part of the “people.” To put it simply, two consenting adults should be allowed to marry no matter what their sexual orientation. After all, at least from a human perspective, “they” – gays and lesbians – are Americans too; and, “they” have a right to the freedom of choice and expression as well.

Works Cited

Clark, Thomas W. “Secularism and sexuality. The case for gay equality” Humanist 54.3 (May/June 94): EBSCO HOST Research Database. 26 Feb. 2003.

Freeman, M. D. A. “Not Such A Queer Idea: Is There a Case for Same-Sex Marriages?” Journal of Applied Philosophy 16.1 (1999): 26 Feb 2003.

Glaser, Chris “Marriage As We See It” 128.12 (9/96) Newsweek: 26 Feb 2003.

Grace, Kevin Michael “Why Save the Nuclear Family?” The Report 2 Sept. (2002): 26 Feb 2003.

Kunen, James “Hawaiian Courtship” Time 128.27 (12/96): 26 Feb. 2003.,10987,985702,00.html

Idelson, Holly “Panel Okays Bill To Undercut Same-Sex Marriages” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report 54.24 (06/96): 26 Feb 2003.

“Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Imperils the family” Human Events 52.20 (5/96): 26 Feb.

Prager, Dennis “Homosexuality, The Bible, and US – A Jewish Perspective” 93.112: 26 Jun 2006

Sullivan, Andrew “State of the Union” New Republic 16.1 (1999): 26 Feb 2003.


A Journey of Nostalgia

June 8, 2006

Editor’s note: This is a reposting of a guest blog I did for Michiganrafter. I have been meaning to write about this experience for the last month. Rafter’s dislocated wing gave me an opportunity to do so.

Hey my name is gksden, and I am helping out while his Michiganrafter wing is being healed. So, I will be attempting to write this posting for him. I am a Colorado native, and I have a dirty little secret. Sssh, I don’t know how to ski. Ssssh, and I dont know how to rock climb, either. Please don’t tell anyone. I am your person who rarely goes camping, but that may be due to my experience as a youth, when I had an opportunity to attend a mountaineering school. I did enough of that for a lifetime. Oh, I loved it. Truly, I did, it was even spiritual. However, it is not my first recreational activity, I am a biker first, a hiker second, and a camper third—actually may be 5th or 6th. Nonetheless, there was a time, when I wanted to scale Mount Everest. Ah, the folly of youth. Observe as I recollect….

Sangre De Cristos Mountains


I have wanted to write about an experience about when I was younger; much younger for the last month. Recently, as I walked through my campus at school—Auraria—which is home to three colleges: Community College of Denver, University of Colorado at Denver, and Metropolitan State College of Denver, the spring weather had brought campus vendors on to the common area grounds selling their wares, opportunities, and adventures.

One such company sent me “Reelin’ in the Years” (Steely Dan) for nostalgia. The vendor name was Outward Bound Wilderness—but in my day—it was Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS), a slight distinction admittedly, but I had not seen, or heard of the school in nearly a generation of my lifetime after high school.

Nevertheless, my head was suddenly awashed with memories; the aroma of pine filled my nostrils, and flashes of green field pastures danced hauntingly behind my eyes, and a reverent smile grew on my face as I talked with youthful proprietors that attended the stand.

It was the summer of my seventeenth birthday, and four months earlier I had been enticed (or bewitched depending on one’s perspective) to go on a quest. I was encourage and inspired by my science teacher, whose name escapes me at this very moment (temporary brain damage, at least I think so). Anyhow, it was to be three weeks (or 21 days) of the most intensive packback trek through Sangre De Cristos Mountains in southern Colorado and I remembered it all as I chatted somewhat enthusiastically Jason Stout of my past youthful glory days.


I had been a young struggling urban youth, lost in my world of  science fiction television and books. I was an awkward teenager trying to find my way to balance, for my intelligence and arrogance, yet I knew everything and nothing all at once.

I remember that I was running late to class one day as the school bell of my high school Alma matter, George Washington, had just rung, as usual I was running behind. I entered the biology classroom with all the stealth of a water buffalo. I had tripped over my own two feet, and went sprawling with my books and supplies across the floor. Classroom snickers could be heard throughout room.

My teacher look at me, he was not upset, with amusement. I hurriedly picked up after myself, when I noticed the guest inside the classroom. A stranger sat patiently in one of the corners—a young woman. She was in her late twenties, red wavy hair, slender body, and forest green eyes that seem to look through me. She was wearing a red plaid flannel shirt underneath it a white t-shirt, and 501 blue jeans. My teacher encouraged me with his eyes to take my seat – so I did. She was a guest speaker for a company called Outward Bound where they provided wilderness training for students, tourists, and companies that had teamwork issues by leading groups of people on rafting, hiking, and mountaineering trips. This woman glowed like a prophet, her fervor nature was intoxicating.

She was hypnotic and I was mesmerized. Her voice was soothing as she spoke like honey going down one’s throat with a hot cup of tea when sick. Her dark green penetrating eyes glistened like deep pools of water, twinkling with excitement as she showed slides of wonderful mountain vistas, of rivers, and of her scaling steep mountainsides with effortless abandon. I thought to myself, “I could do this!” My heart pounded and began to ascertain the possibilities of adventure, and I was not just thinking of the mountainous terrain.

After all, of course, fantasies of a young man’s fancy ensued. I imagined the conquering the massive 14,000-foot peaks, traveling down the most difficult rapids, and scaling the most difficult cliffs. I would conquer nature, and I would be nature’s king. I would be king of the mountains! It is peculiar how life’s aspirations turn out.

(Green Mountains) Sangre De Cristos Mountains

My biology teacher informed the class that if one went on such a trip they could get extra course credit and then I heard how much. My heart sank. I might as well have bought a new-used car for the amount of money they were charging, but I was determined. I was going to conquer nature not only for me, but I was going accomplish my life’s destiny. So, I gathered up the brochure materials and my books and took it home to my mother.

I spent the better part of a week trying to convince her, a single parent of three, to let me go; certainly a difficult task. I bribed my sisters, and I had to promise to procure a job to pay my mom back. However, when everything was said and done, I was still $350 dollars short. The Monday morning, before the deadline for payment and a week before the deadline, I informed my teacher of my predicament. He suggested that I apply for a scholarship for the rest of it.

(Lake Isabel, Wet Mountains part of the Sangre De Cristos)


One of the universal truths’ is that what effort you put out is exactly what you get back. So I applied for the scholarship and got lucky and received exactly the $350 (I have suspicion that my teacher may have sponsored me indirectly, but really will never know. If he did—thank you).

Now, all I needed was to buy clothes, backpack, and boots. It took all summer to acquire the items I needed, and I took this as sign of my first conquest. My journey of discovery began in the early part of August, the rainy season, when thunder- storms rolled in and out of the Colorado Mountains. The buses came and picked us up, we, the grand adventurers, from the designated spot. The pilgrimage to the southern red mountains was long and arduous. At one point, I saw the Sand Dunes of Colorado far in the distance; the camel white dunes were smooth, crystalline; a virtual desert of silk as the Dunes rose like waves gently caressing the sides of the hills. It was late when we arrived at the base camp….


Cleveland and Tijeras Peaks, Music and Marble Mountains rising beyond the dunes. That’s Challenger Point, Kit Carson Peak and Columbia Point rising on the left. (Source National Park Service).


It was dark, the night enveloped the mountains and the trees, and it was disturbing. The city lights of Denver were a distant memory. However, my confidence did not waiver as the buses pulled into the staging area, but the journey was just beginning. A hike of ten miles to the first campsite was to greet the start of the expedition. We would break up into groups, and begin our sojourn for the night. We walked in silence as the ground grinded underneath our steps. After about an hour it began to rain, and my first lesson came upon me, my boots began soaking the rain that fell upon them.

My waterproofing had failed. My boots were soaked, my socks, my feet, and looked like prunes when I had removed them for the night. The next thirteen of the twenty-one days it would rain. I scaled various mountain-sides some successfully, and some not with my group. The one’s we failed to conquer would rot at my gut; nevertheless, I saw nature in its wonderment. I saw hawks using it wings to ride thermals of air for what seemed like forever, and then suddenly dive to catch its meal for the day. I was envious. It was one more reminder of the enormity of nature and how the beauty of flight seemed graceful.

One day our journey came to a screeching halt. We sat in our tents as we waited for the storm to subside before hiking the next mountain range. It never did, and our patience was wearing thin. We were losing time. We each had a mission to accomplish that of fasting and solo meditation. For me this was the test I would best myself against nature. The instructors would check on us daily to make sure we drank enough water, however before any that happen, the rain and fog kept us socked in at our campsite. So, we waited.

(A winter moment from Europe; image RobT)

Finally, unable to wait any longer, we gathered our saturated belongings and proceeded up the side of the mountain. Each step was a squish, a deliberate plod, and a squirt. The red mud clay of the mountain slipped underneath my boots.

The mud had stacked on like layers on the bottom of my shoes, as the group reached the vista that lay ahead of us changed from a doom and gloom London rain to the rolling hills of green Ireland. I stood there; we all stood there, in amazement of the sudden change of fortune and weather…..

California Peak in San Luis Valley (Sangre De Cristos Mountains)

It had been three days and my group leader had returned for me to tell me my solo was done. The time of my meditation and reflection had changed me. Nature had let me feel the loneliness and the solitude. I learned that they were completely different animals. A person could be alone in crowd of people, while solitude was the individual ability to find peace within oneself and be okay alone. I felt alone, I had all my life, even though I had two sisters and a mother and my father a Rolling Stone type (Sly & family Stone) and no where to be found. Nature had shown me my loneliness……

Images provided and the following text is provided by BLM:

“Zapata Falls is located 4 miles east of Colorado Highway 150, just south of the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The gravel road going in is excellent for a BLM site. From the parking area it is about a 1/2 mile walk uphill to the falls. As you are well above the San Luis Valley floor and looking over the sand dunes, the views are excellent.

Two million years ago glacial activities were sculpting the Sangre de Cristos. The waterfall flows through a rock dike left by a retreating glacier. As the glacier melted away, a large lake of melt water built up behind the dike. Eventually, the water found a weak spot in the dike and began working and eroding its’ way through.

The photo on the left above was taken at the entrance to the rock gorge carved by the water. The photo on the right was taken inside the gorge. To get there I walked across the frozen and flowing streambed into the gorge. The gorge is open up above but you can’t always see the sky. And it was probably 30 degrees colder in the gorge with a stiff breeze blowing downstream (there was almost no wind outside the gorge).” (Source BLM)

It had been a tough three weeks and the excursion was about over when I decided to walk off by myself. I found a large saucer shaped boulder large enough to house a house a small family. Okay, maybe a small midgets’ family, but a rather large boulder, which I climbed, and laid down upon it in the evening air.

The night sky was filled with stars as the sounds of the woods reached a crescendo when I felt the change within my lungs. I lay there perfectly still not wanting to be disturbed by the atmosphere of the night. My body started to tingle like a thousands of ants had just crawled over my skin. First, I felt the loss of my arms, neck, legs, and then my feet. I could not move them. I tried desperately.

I was suddenly frightened. I did not know what to do, but the more I struggled, the more the sensation grew. Finally, I wrestled myself to my knees, then to my feet. I stood up and began to walk away when I pivoted on my heels to look at the boulder—I saw myself on the great rock with my eyes wide open.

The moon rose, and it was big as life. I stretched out my arm see if I could touch it, and suddenly I was there. The moon was barren, lifeless and I saw far above the horizon the Earth. I pinched myself. It seemed real enough, and suddenly the Earth grew fainter, and fainter, and I was floating towards a light.


Image from flick’r public domain

It was calming, benevolent, and soothing to my soul. Faster and faster the light grew more intense and just when I felt my eyes might burn away, I stood in a luscious forest green field. A melodic orchestrations washed over me. It was of nature. The sounds of it encompassed me, reminding me that this was mine, ours, and life was meant to be lived.

As it had quickly as it formed, the journey home reversed. The green field faded, darkness returned, and the Moon and the Earth grew exponentially. I now stood over my body, seeing it really for the first time. I reached out touch my arm and with that the words breathlessly, “What the hell?” spewed out from my lips.

Nature had taught her final lesson to me and that, she was the timekeeper—and the certainty of death was not to be feared.

When my trip had ended, I had returned home to understand that life’s isolation was up to me, and that I could be comfortable within my own skin—no matter what the color…

(So, it ends with a pleasant sunset; not in Colorado, but for the spirit. Image by Jen C.)

Jason Stout and I exchanged pleasantries as I grabbed his business card as I vowed to him and myself that I would help in anyway that I could bring back my passage from childhood. Ah, memory lane, that day was good, I walked to my next class, and my sentimental refrain reminded that after all, it is just another day in paradise. And so…. life goes on, while nature remains wondrous, mysterious, in all its beauty.







The Absurdity of Fear

May 21, 2006

6,500,000,000 (rounded) World Population1,313,000,000 billion (rounded) China
1,089,000,000 billion (rounded) India
107,000,000 million (rounded) Mexico
298,000,000 million (rounded) USA
456,000,000 million (rounded) EU
3,263,000,000 billion (rounded)


The Heritage Foundation


The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S. 2611) would be the most dramatic change in immigration law in 80 years, allowing an estimated 103 million persons to legally immigrate to the US over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current population of the United States.

According to The Heritage Foundation, by the end of 20 years, the senate bill, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (CIRA, S. 2611), could possibly allow an “estimated 103 million persons to immigrate over the next 20 years—fully one-third of the current US population.” In other words, on the average, averaged per year, 5 million legal immigrants would be crashing through gates, in this case, borders of America.

These numbers are astounding; even frightening; until one realizes their absurdity. The Heritage Foundation report by Robert Rector boldly titled, “Senate Immigration Bill Would Allow 100 million New Legal Immigrants over the Next Twenty Years” is nothing more than tilted political spin, filled with supposition, extending the worse case scenarios, and playing on the fears of Americans.

Are these numbers possible? Yes. Are they likely? Hmmm? No. If one is to believe these numbers, the extent that will result, the United States is not only in for a major culture change, but an economy so robust that it will support exponential arrival of guest workers.

On the other hand, this could be considered an argument for doing nothing at all, except for a few adjustments: enforcement of current law, securing the borders, building a fence, prosecution of employers for hiring illegal/undocumented workers, and biometric employment identification cards.

This is what I mean, if the US Congress and Senate fail to resolve the issue and come to compromise on the new levels of legal immigrants, then, the next best step is the curtailing and prevention of illegal workers. Yes, this will only partially stem the tide of illegal aliens, and this measure would assert a linear increase of “immigrants” into the country. Instead of an exponential increase of 103 million, another 20 million immigrants possibly, probably, but not likely, would filter unaccounted for into the country.

However, there is a problem with doing nothing; in that, this solution may be considered most risky. The public perception of ineptness my result in the voting out public officials seen as incompetent, self-serving, a willingness to compromise national security, and abetting lawlessness of illegal/undocumented immigrant workers.

Nonetheless, The Heritage Foundation spin is a disservice to the debate and plays on the public fear. For instance, upon reading the Web Memo, in the fourth paragraph:


“The figure of 103 million immigrants is a reasonable estimate of the actual immigration inflow under the new bill and not the maximum number that would be legally permitted to enter. The maximum number that could legally enter would be almost 200 million over twenty years—over 180 million more legal immigrants than current law permits” [my emphasis in the bold].

Hmmm? In that above quote, there is a lot of speculation. Let’s break it down, shall we? What is missing? What is the agenda? The answer is obvious; yes—but why the distortion of the facts? I will concede the possibility, even the probability, but the likelihood is not. This scenario assumes that everything remains static, and it also assumes the worse. It makes conclusions that play on the public’s unwillingness to investigate their case because they present it in such a reasonable fashion. It plays to the public’s desire of wanting to KISS it (keeping it simple and stupid).

In so being that, in the current atmosphere, the debate, which has been around Mexican Nationals and the Mexico border makes it easier to justify to scream at political leaders. The enemy, of course, is all the Mexican Nationals, who are subverting our culture, and our way of life; and, their refusal to learn English and adapt to American “values and belief.” Right? It is an invasion, after all, “just try to stop it!” (Peter Boyles, KHOW 630 AM Denver Colorado).

In part the validity of securing the borders rings true and is necessary. It is the how that needs to be worked out. What is missing from the statement is that there is only 107,000,000 Mexican Nationals (rounded) in the current population of Mexico. Unless “they” are Tribbles, the likelihood of Mexico’s population doubling is not probable, think about it.

The headlining figures imply that a nation-state will nearly depopulate itself, in the next 20 years, in order to have the citizenry come to the American Dream. And, who could fault “them” for that? After all, if they just do it legally then there is no problem, right? Except, if there is a law that lets “them” in anyway, right? This is what Senate bill 2611 supposedly does according to The Heritage Foundation.

image by

I am being too repetitive yet? Good! The preaching is just beginning. This particular posting is not neutral! Both the left and right extremes have contributed to the vileness I feel for them. And, those in the middle trying to bring rationality have failed miserably. The issue has been how does America adapt “to the War on Terror” and continue to be a player in the global market place into not only the 21st Century but beyond?

First step is to get our collective heads out of the sand (or other dark anatomically places), and start paying attention to the world around us.

Let’s continue the lesson of critical thinking, then. "Watch for the code," (according to Peter Boyles, the "Left" and those who support immigrants, legal or otherwise have a "code", watch for the "code" of the "Right" and the way it is used, its the same frakin one!). The Heritage Foundation (THF) would have you believe that somehow America’s population will be overran with foreigners—the “them.”

In that, on the heels of major protests and demonstrations across the country: Los Angeles 400,000; Chicago over 300,000; and, Denver 75,000 of recent weeks with Hispanics and other ethnicities (US born, legal residents, and illegal immigrants) marched in the streets. This was a daunting vision to see, and realization like that another Hallmark day once again staggered our vision and that, we are not paying attention once aain, except this time it is right under our own noses.

So, now there is an enemy within, and it is us. And, the enemy outside, the terrorist (some say Islam itself) continues to taunts our openness as a nation and our way of life. Even, our neighbors’ has shown disdain by disrespecting us, by dumping their less than desirables by not creating viable life for their citizens. Our leaders have betrayed their citizens by making “behind the closed doors” deals with that enemy.

For instance, as the new legislation defines immigration status according to THF are as follows:

Immigration Status
To understand the provisions of CIRA, largely based on a compromise by Senators Chuck Hagel (R–Nebraska) and Mel Martinez (R–Florida), it is useful to distinguish between the three legal statuses that a legal immigrant might hold:

Temporary Status: Persons in this category enter the U.S. temporarily and are required to leave after a period of time. Near-Permanent, Convertible Status: Persons in this category enter the U.S. and are given the opportunity to “adjust” or convert to legal permanent residence after a few years.

Legal Permanent Residence (LPR): Persons in this category have the right to remain in the United States for their entire lives. After five years, they have the right to naturalize and become citizens. As naturalized citizens, they have the constitutional rights to vote and to receive any government benefits given to native-born citizens.

A key feature of CIRA is that most immigrants identified as “temporary” are, in fact,
given convertible status with a virtually unrestricted opportunity to become legal permanent residents and then citizens.”

Seems straight forward—yes? Here is the problem as spelled out later in the text is the inference that seemingly “all” legal immigrants would be their entire extended family to the US. Robert Rector points out:

“…Both CIRA and existing immigration law is that immigrants in convertible or LPR status have the right to bring spouses and minor children into the country. Spouses and dependent children will be granted permanent residence along with the primary immigrant and may also become citizens. In addition, after naturalizing, an immigrant has the right to bring his parents into the U.S. as permanent residents with the opportunity for citizenship. There are no numeric limits on the number of spouses, dependent children, and parents of naturalized citizens that may be brought into the country. Additionally, the siblings and adult children (along with their families) of naturalized citizens and the adult children (and their families) of legal permanent residents are given preference in future admission but are subject to numeric caps.”

image by

Okay. So, the worker wants to be with his wife and kids. Gee, how dare they want to be with their family! Sarcasm aside, what is the issue?

It is the probability of sharing the power with legal immigrants seems disconcerting (They are "the others", after all). Rector points to the fact that the “‘temporary guest worker’ H-2C program” is nothing more than a way to become permanent citizens (by the way, once you become a citizen, you are no longer an “other”, but an US). Certainly, this is a mere shadow of the represented truth, but that assumes that everything remains static over the twenty years; and, that US Congress and Senate do not adjust the law accordingly.

Another interesting element missing from this report is that these legal residents will be paying federal, state, city and local taxes and contributing to the social security fund, and contributing to the consumer economy as well as the “melting pot” of American culture. Unless the legal immigrant is some how they are not worthy?

And, this is where the arguments of stratified classes and racism begins for the Left. Which is another long topic in itself, but let me remind the Left of this, an overplayed card becomes ineffective and trite when later a valid comes along. Admittedly, there is an element of truth to their fanaticism. But the idolization of the illegal / undocumented workers is not full faith based argument either. The flaunting of immigration laws has justifiably upset the citizen. And, with the numbers of crossing the borders, at least from a Mexican Nationals perspective, are responsible for their own demise in their nation as well. And, be that as it may, the complicity of American business, politicians, and the citizenry (for failing to pay attention) are partially responsible for our current “immigration issue.”

Nonetheless, when Rector lays out the worse case scenario (through the eight channels of legal and proposed CIRA channels) ad nauseam, he assumes that the border is not secured through implication when he states:

“All of the immigration discussed to this point would be legal immigration. If illegal immigration continued after enactment of S.2611, the inflow of immigrants would be even greater. Although illegal immigration is considered a major problem, the proposed legal immigration under CIRA would dwarf it numerically. The net inflow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. population is around 700,000 per year.[16] Legal immigration under CIRA would exceed five million per year, seven times the rate of the current illegal immigration flow. Annual legal and illegal immigration together now equals about 1.7 million; future legal immigration alone under CIRA would be three times this amount.”

In other words, failing to pass the bill would be a greater service. Read the code. The key to his alarmist critique is the CIRA bill allowance of exponentially increased guest workers. Worse case, in his view, at the end of twenty years legal guest workers needed would be approximately 12 million per year (based on initial startup of 325,000 and up to 65,000 (20%) if not enough workers were supplied, and again up to the maximum 20% per year thereafter). This is an extraordinary assumption and again leaves out the economic implication of these workers and the citizenry at hand. This means that the economy at the end of 20 years has the vitality to generate one million jobs per month.

What is more likely though this is an indication that, the 12 millions guest workers (who all will pay taxes) will be needed to make up the loss of American workers due to retirement of the Baby Boomers, and the shortfall of workers in various other industries and not just low income service end-stopper careers, and the probability, of course, all these jobs are outsourced anyway. And, we will not have to worry about the immigrants legal or otherwise.

Another possibility, the immigration comes from not only Mexico, the implication that all or most of the immigration will come from Mexico is inane, but from China and India which are the only countries capable enough to send that many workers based, comfortably, on their current population bases.

At any rate, my suggestion to you all is to read the web memo by Robert Rector closely, not just once but several times. The inferences of what could, might, ifs, up top, maximums of what “would” is self-serving for The Heritage Foundation and adds fuel to pyre of xenophobia and extremism. Vent over! After all, it is just another day in paradise….

Note—A newly added amendment by Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico modifies the number of “guest workers and family” downward; interesting. This is following attachment to THF site by Robert Rector:

“(Update: On Tuesday, May 16, the Senate passed Sen. Jeff Bingaman's (D-NM) amendment to S. 2611 that significantly reduced the number of legal immigrants who could enter under the bill's "guest worker" program. As a result of this change, our estimate of the number of legal immigrants who would enter the country or would gain legal status under S. 2611 falls from 103 million to around 66 million over the next 20 years.)”

Todays Thought #2**

April 24, 2006

picture by Imagechoes (link)

Who has broken a vow to you? Another life lesson to be sure….and journey necessary to face tendering of the heart and for the mind to make proper choices. Yes, to live without trust is to sacrifice one spiritual nature to the demons of doubts and curry their favor within insecurities.

Yes, the world is full of deceit and deception but if this is all one sees then the opportunity for enlightenment is lost and darkened.

To see the world as merely black and white, to expect perfection and not to see the "flaws" as the aspect of one's beauty and inateness, sets us a part from ourselves and the Universe.

Yes, trust is never the same once perceived as broken–but we are not the same because one has allowed to be "conditioned." To be naive is not a blindness but an unexpected gem that shones the error of our ways to those we touch.

And yes, the trust one had may not be the same, but the journey of reparations, if forgiveness has not been forsaken, can be redeemed through salvation of ones heart.

To allow the ashes of betrayal to foster is to reinvite darkness–thus trust must be given wholeheartedly it is the only way to penetrate core of existence and to find our true spiritual path to the Universe and to ourselves.

-gks** Todays second thought is also a response to Maldita, Bratinella posting "Broken Vow" (link). These two thoughts of the day are tied together in that ultimately it is our own personal resposnsibilty to find our way in the Universe as well as our own spirituality.

The War in Focus

March 29, 2006

Introduction: As you peruse this commentary, keep in your hearts and mind our soldiers in the field. In this website—and other you will see Soldiers’ Angels click on this and adopt a soldier today—thank you.

It has now been about a week since the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, and my sentiment remains the same: Be patient America the “War on Terror” will end soon enough. How soon depends upon us. The message we send the planet during the course of it is dependent on how we face our past, present, and prescient legacy—and our taking responsibility for those “items” we deem laudable.

Dateline: March 20th, 2006, marked the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. What I mean is this: Although, the following may be a critique of American governmental foreign policy, this is not a direct criticism of the citizenry say for one, personal responsibility.

In the every day world of life, one’s duty ought to include the acceptance of consequences for ones action. A cliché – true enough, but accurate; in essence, to accept our own person’s action in how I, or we delegate our authority of subsistence to the government “we” portend to surrender the “rule of law” in order to organize rule. Of late, the citizenry, understandably, here in the United States, has been shrouded in shadows and fear. This darkness of emotion was and is the result of the one fateful day, September 11, 2001.

This day has sent the United States morale and self-esteem in the crevices of despondency. In so being that, emotionalism has charted the course of American policy. Ever since America and Americans (there is a difference) loss their sense of vulnerability; the sleeping giant had awaken into the world groggily, stumbling about the path of retribution. Initially, the “War on Terror” sought out those directly responsible for perpetrating the violation of our space and sovereignty. The mission was just and resolute. Then one day, certainly not over night, a mutation began in America and Americans angst and anger descended into paranoia.

Terrorists were seemingly in the dark shadows of every alley way. Alerts were sanctioned; our emotions palpable, uncertainty underscored the uneasiness of our nerves. Our fears were intangible and the lack of clarity shunted our most rational thoughts.

A new culture of fear permeated the skins of American hearts. Our leaders, albeit, for the sense of security, sowed the seeds of mistrust prior and after to the war in Iraq. By adjoining the “War on Terror” to the “War in Iraq” that Saddam Hussein and his regime were responsible for September 11th attacks. In addition to that, the drumming of fear set American against one another, suspicions turned to rumors, rumors turned to the authorization of laws, which restricted our participation to due process (see the PATRIOT Act as earliest example).

On the one hand, the message by our leaders advocated patience, tolerance and knowledge of those who were not our enemy. In essence, that not all “Arabs” or people who practice the “Islamic” faith were our enemy. In fact, they wanted to be free as well in their own variant definition of it, of course. But on the other, with tacit approval of our “governmental representatives,” by their silence and their implicitly announced similar faith, in that, and I paraphrase “It is all of Islam that is our enemy in this “War on Terror,” at least, this is the perception being present by the Christian fundamentalist.

photo by Lana

By tacit approval of “governmental representatives,” I mean that, and this is not direct criticism on the president’s faith, George W. Bush’s has been seen by the two perspectives: either as a comfort or as destructive. I find his faith both reassuring and also disturbing. In the sense that, my hope in his ethical, moral, and principals are guided by a worthy philosophy. My concern is the “orthodoxy,” the fundamentalism of it; essentially, the nature of it. It is, Christian fundamentalists, unwillingness to adapt, to change, or rather selectively change, or admit errors, in spite of facts being presented. It is the rigidity and dogmatism of the faith that can be oppressive at times (see the Catholic Church history; or, James Dobson).

Nevertheless, his focus, Bush’s, governmental policy has left the impression with public that all Islamic state (from their governments pundits view) or “Arab” states are at war with us (see Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and to some degree Saudi Arabia). So, it is not surprising when the public decries a “trading” relationship with another Islamic nation-state and wonders what the administration was thinking (see Dubai debacle). Thus, once again, appears that America, and more specifically Americans are fearful and intolerant.

Appearances, and images matter. It transmits the initial perception of reality. This perception or perceptions misshapes; and, represents the counter to what America is suppose to be. The shining beacon of liberty, in which, freedom, religion, expression, and choice are the rules not the exception. The ability of the minority to dissent, to have the right to argue, enables us to bring an idea, an experiment really, to reality. This is the message of America: individuals who are willing to be governed by the “rule of law” and in order to extend to those politically, ethnically, and racially equality for everyone that wishes to obtain them. In simple terms: “All men are created equal”; if you chose—people.

Unfortunately, this message has been lost in translation in the execution of this war, and according to some, this war was blundered from the start: materials, mission statement, and troops needed were bungled. First, it was eminent threat of “weapons of mass destructions”, “liberation of the Iraq,” and then, “democratization” of it—Iraq.

Now three years later, with supposed recriminations, abuses, and accusations of incompetence (see CIA faulty information) for the war in Iraq, and the “war on terror” (see border or ports issues) by the United States has dejected the morale of the American public (see recent polls) even more. Say for the administration’s core base—religious ideologues—the image of America’s has been tarnished and corrupted—even.

Americans are now apathetic. As a result of the screaming extremes, those in the middle, who believe that security is a necessity, desirable, but not at the sacrifice of our liberty, have been left wanting. Too much contradictory information bombards those who wish to determine the accuracy of our foreign policy for themselves, thus, the numbness Americans feel.

However, in the last three years—and for sure beyond, there is one certainty: our troops in the field from Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, South Korea, Germany, Dubai and so forth need our unconditional support. This is despite the competency of the leadership in office of the moment and their reflective foreign policy that sends them in harms way. Our soldiers are our children, our sisters, our brothers, our friends and their children, and of course, our extended family represents us around this vast globe yet small community. They are the make up and representative of the best of America and of humanity.

It is their concern for humanity, and all of us, we, the planetary citizens, that they sacrifice themselves. So, let us all support the soldiers in the field, here at home and those abroad. For they are the soldiers of the light, after all, when it is said in and done—it just another day in paradise for us in the land of milk and honey….

The Patriotic Voice

March 25, 2006

pictures by Lana

Talk radio, earlier this month, locally and nationally, had been in an uproar for a couple weeks, because of one teacher and one student: Jay Bennish and Sean Allen, the emotions of which had run high to highest vitriol and to the lowest of the bigoted haters.The controversy spewed through over the air waves on whether the teacher had the right to “banshee” an overtly bias political opinion to the “young” impressionable minds (they are high school students). In other words, when Jay Bennish, the teacher, in a seemingly endless tirade, in his high school geography, although, there is a question whether or not, if it was an advanced placement, or a simple elective high school curriculum course, have the right to use free speech. At any rate, the young idealistic teacher skewered the United States foreign policy, past and present, and likened George W. Bush, with over used Adolph Hitler comparison. His tirade began, in which some say, due to the prompting of his student Sean Allen, while the class writing down definitions from the blackboard.

This all began, when the topic of the State of the Union address came up. In the middle of his “instruction” trying to “illustrate” the folly of the United States government foreign policy error, he became animated, or at least his voice on the MP3 recording did.

This is how it began; Sean Allen recorded his teacher, Mr. Bennish, as he taught the Advance Placement Geography course, for the purpose of “studying notes,” at least that is what Sean says, as his teacher began to foment; and, now his teacher’s MP3 recorded voice echoes in the ears of conservatives. Sean and his father brought this teacher’s escapade to financial guru, sometime columnist, and fill in for Rush Limbaugh—Walt Williams—eyebrows rose but hardly a voice murmured.

Apparently, as this story was being posted on Mr. Williams’ website, Sean and his father were also in discussion with Mike Rosen, a local talk show host here in Denver, columnist, and also a sometime fill in for Rush, and they brought their MP3 recording to him.

A furor erupted, as Rosen serendipitously played sound bites of the “liberal” teacher’s rants. The disdain from Mike—and the folly from the other conservative hosts emanated with venomous glee.

Some said, and I paraphrase,

• “This is why we need vouchers!”
• “This is what we mean about the educational system!”
• “Liberal teachers indoctrinating our kids!”
• “Subversives!”

And then the hate and intolerance really began, one Jon Caldara, another local talk show host in Denver, advocated for Jay Bennish’s termination, never the mind the procedures to oust this “hater of America”. But he alas, Jon Caldara, surrendered to the fact that, it would not happen because of the apparent “corruption” of the educational system. Condemning the minutia of the educational system, the administrators, from the principal on up, in sweeping shrill emotionalism of apocalyptical dimensions. “He should be fired!” Jon Caldara emoted because of Jay Bennish’s overt disdain for capitalism (which is not a crime by the way) and politics. Caldara continued “The fact that these kids,” meaning high school students “are captive,” to “this teachers’ vitriol is abominable!” No doubt, this is partially true, because of the requirement of law.

However, a child is only captive if the parents allow them to be. In this go-go fast-paced world, parents are far too busy playing the role of keeping up with the “Joneses” than paying attention to what is going on in their own child’s school, PTA, or school board or with their own child for that matter (see the Columbine example). It is far too easy to blame the fanatic, than face our own capitulation, tolerance, and acceptance of values, in which we find divergent views from our own.

So, when the “conservative” attack jocks underscore the “miserable state of education” it fulfilled our a need to prostrate not only our own guilt—but also “enable” the continuation of the source of the distress and demonization.

The immaturity and imbalance of Mr. Bennish reminded the extremists, the conservative radio jocks of the right; correction, the shrill voice of the right that, they feel there is an indifference to their own inequity and inadequacy, and they felt, or “perceive” a lack of control of their child’s own interests.

The problem with this perception, however, is that the first educator of the child is the parent. Oh yes, there are Jay Bennish type teachers in school system, but it is the parent who has twenty four hour access, if they wanted to “indoctrinate” their own children of the legacy they wish to forward (see Pastor Fred Phelps of Kansas). And, if the child is lucky they have the quality “ideal” parents of Rob and Laura Petrie (The Dick Van Dyke show), or Howard and Marion Cunningham (Happy Days), or even the parents from the Cosby Show. It is the parents, some would say, responsibility, duty to teach their child discernment, or at least guidance to good judgment (before stepping a foot in school) so that they can understand the difference between right and wrong, and understand to some degree between to opine—and fact.

Picture by Lana

Fact, Mr. Bennish failure was and is his inability to see beyond his own intolerance—and to present a non-bias perspective of political discourse of American politics, in that, as his duty as an instructor is not be moralist or advocacy for or against a particular forum. In the case of Sean Allen, failure to foresee the consequences of his own actions (as a teenager one would expect him to know a little about this). For instance, he was repored as saying, Sean that is, “He did not expect the reaction from the media attention that received.” Hmm? Okay. An interesting comment, in that, this is from a young adult who wants to be a stand-up comic. His failure to see the brush fire of the moment only emphasizes his “turning in” of an “American hater,” “a liberal,” a “left wing nut” would not only explode but also implode on to him as well. Moreover, it seems particularly naïve with the present day environment of the “war culture” that Sean, and at least his parents, must have surely thought such a reaction to occur.

During such times, any contrarian opinions are “nuked” and considered treasonous even the messenger is shot. Sean—was the messenger. He might have been held up as the “hero of the day,” (for the right—anyway) but the political opposition will and sees him as a Judas and need to dissemble his voice. This is also true of Mr. Bennish as well; forever the two are tied together.

And then, there are Sean Allen’s parents and their failure to follow the rules, which is also a damning factor: accusations of failing to follow the chain of command only sullies their son’s “apparent” hero of the culture war of the moment (at least for the right anyway). And, the presumption of the father that the political fray would not dare touch his son in vile threats and repudiations was naïve, at the least. Sean Allen seemed far better equipped to handle the recriminations than his own parents (a masterful spin doctor he was). Ultimately, Sean Allen’s parents’ failure was their inability to protect, to participate, and to anticipate as well as counsel their own message for their son. Yes, the mother is a democrat, “a liberal,” and tried to defend her son aptly, while the father is a conservative, a conservative republican, and a party that stands for the “truth” (humph).

One other point, by participate I mean that the parents of Sean Allen, their own son seemed to make better choices than themselves. When listening to the MP3 recording Sean challenged his teacher, and critically thought out his questions. He seemed, Sean, to understand, at the least, perceptively, that the differing perspectives are essential to discourse. The question is, however, how much of this was his doing or his parents guidance, their overwrought emotionalism of Jan Bennish (or his father’s actually) rants seem to refute their credibility, and how much of this desire by Sean is to seek out fame.

And then there is the hypersensitive right and left shrills, and what my musings are really about: the patriotic voice. Lost in translation, in all the screaming, accusations, and finger pointing is the fact: the voice of dissent is drowned, demonized, and demoralized. To disavow one’s “obligation” as Roy Rappaport, the anthropologist from the University of Michigan might have said, to go against the ritual of “acceptance and conformity” to the hegemonic society (the majority of masses) is a betrayal of patriotism, God, and country—not necessarily in that order. To subvert any ideal of the majority is considered treasonous—and in this country, un-American. What is fascinating, however, is the “cognitive dissonance” that is America.

A country, the United States, born of individuality, of revolution, of independence—and pursuit of happiness—liberty that is, and yet our desire to suffocate, obscure, delineate—and yes, to destroy a differing perspective that is a necessary to our “free spirit.” Essentially, one must obey the “current” version of the “truth”; after all, truth is subjective; truth is what is defined by the hegemony, and the ritual of the moment. If it is in a “state of war” certain rules and principals are inviolate—and never to be “breached” (Rappaport) by the individual. If they do, these voices of dissent, condemnation to them with all the dispersion of Hell, “For they must have succumbed to an agent of madness; they are imbalanced and insane.” Needless to say, the damning of this individual is counter to our revolutionary past.

In the past, to dissent was one’s duty and meant to bring argumentation and rationality to the majority; the minority was a tempering a hand. This also is what means to be an American, or so we were told as children. But the conditions of war change the voice of dissent; it condemns it; it is not allowed. The concern, now with this war, is that this is not a “traditional” war being executed. The ending is ineffable, and the days of battlefield follies and traditional nation-states are gone. The hubris of “manned” terror-nations now reigns; and, to have a possible incredulous voice of dissent is to mean cowardice in the face of national pride. In spite of this conservatism, even liberals seem to desire (and have been relegated) to the formation of “acceptance” and “conformity” in order not to appear un-American, unpatriotic, and unworthy of citizenship—so in the early days of 9/11 they capitulated.

Now, the far left and right play politics and certainly betray the people they represent. Their disingenuousness and selfishness of gamesmanship that play into to the smallness of fear. Nevertheless, despite all these vessels and roads of separation, there is still time to set the course of conservation and pragmatism. This nation needs to return course of civility, and in spite of itself, it needs to “break” the “obligation” of the war mentally paranoia. Certainly discern, argue, dissent, and have well thought out rationality, but to be lost in emotionalism—no. After all, it is just another day in paradise, and this country is the tocsin and the beacon of humanities hope….

A Pragmatist View: It’s alRight to be Left

March 4, 2006

Traditionally, the Washington Post columnist are viewed as left leaning liberals that aim to demonstrate “error of our ways” with political correctness (Whew!). From some viewpoints they are ideologues whose motives must be suspected, because, after all, the Washington Post and their ilk are saboteurs to the American way of life. In so being that, the liberal left obfuscates and blinds Americans from the truth. In essence, papers such as the Washington Post, New York Times, and LA Times have agendas to shroud the public from its personal liberties, freedom of speech, and selfish intolerances; or at the least, that is what one is to believe.

So, when I see two diametrically oppose pundits virtually agree on the same topic, George Will and Richard Cohen and diatribe on the issue of free speech and to advocate for, in a fashion, David Irving’s oration and writings on the “faux” holocaust is tantamount to the mountain coming to Moses…Well, maybe not. But their points in their recent columns and their rationality within them are well taken. It is a mistake in a “free society” and I will add even during a time of “war” obscure liberties, such as “free speech.” To do so, is to defeat the example of our greatness and our inclusiveness. Admittedly, this may sound like a big tent moment, but it is not. Our democracy must not give in to our own insecurities, our greatest virtue and principle, the First Amendment, must not be relegated to the extremes of political correctness, from either side, it must be held up as our greatest asset.

By doing so, we must continuously live the example, if we are to maintain to be the “Golden City on the Hill,” we must stand proud and advocate with all fury that we shall overcome the hate, the desperation of fear. Fear makes us small. Fear places us in darkness. Yet, some would still excoriate and vilify those who questions our government’s secrecy, and its many faces of manipulation, or the laws that have been touted in the “people’s best interest.” In this “War on Terror,” I do not demonize, demean, or deny such critics, I applaud them. Why? Simply, because it takes courage to doubt, to challenge, to speak out, and not to succumb to one’s fear. Yes, some of their motives may not be virtuous, but in their suspicions, they have allowed us to examine and find the truth and to be on guard against the many demons of the fearful.

On the other hand, it shows our enemies, real and imagined, our resolve to control our own destiny. It also forewarns our government that, they must continue to earn our trust and that they may “execute,” with our blessing, “our” government, with the “rule of law.” And it is us, the citizen, and the citizen representatives that control, at our sufferance, the government. However, when we tolerate inane platitudes such as the restoration of speech on and off college campuses, high schools, or special corporate interest groups, then we are one step closer to the denial of the dream—of the freedom we have, seek, and desire.

Some of the capriciousness of this great experiment of freedom, which has evolved for more than 200 years, in which the preamble of civil discourse, argumentation was and is the allowance of the debate. It has grown into our symbol for humanity; we were argued into existence. And, such an experiment should not be vanquished into the realm of obscurity—but celebrated and held up as the enlightenment to the individual.

This is what I mean, I agree with George F. Will and Richard Cohen that the odious messages of David Irving, Ku Klux Klan, or a ranting liberal or social conservative must be heard. No to be obscured, to do so give them validation for those who wish to roll in the muck of ignorance and fear; we must as a civilization remain open with all our warts for all the world to see, in order to swallow the disarray and confusion of the majority of the moment. So, that not only the vast ocean of indifferences, of ignorance, can be stemmed—but their relevancies can be extenuated so that we can be there for our moments of pertinences.

These pertinences are for humanity’s aspiration, inspiration, and the continuation of the human condition’s better angels. In so being that, the grand leaders of our time, past and present, can act. These who were and are worthy would have had sacrificed in vane their messages and their lives (think Jesus, George Washington, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Ronald Reagan). Yes, even for persons such as David Irving’s denial of the Holocaust, Jay Bennish’s proselytizing, Ward Churchill’s intolerance, Pat Robertson’s condemnation, James Dobson’s demonizations for individual’s choices are examples of the cost of an open society, even in the minacious moments, such as 9/11. In fact, such moments should mettle our resolve. To sanction speech is to cower and to surrender to the enemy from within and to give into the enemy from the outside. Some of us may not always agree with our polar opposite, but it is alRight to be Left. And, lest we forget that, after everything is said and done, it is just another day in paradise. After all, we live together in the greatest city and we are the beacon for humanity and it is our burden to bear….

Bipolar America

February 25, 2006

Dateline: February 22, 2006. Yesterday, I was perusing my local newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, here in Denver, when I came across two articles juxtapose from one another; perhaps due to a mischievous editor’s eye. Nonetheless, these two articles illustrated the state of education and the state of the American condition, or at the least, the state of education within my local community. One had to do with a junior, in a Littleton high school, a suburb of Denver metropolitan area, and the other, an elementary school in Bennett, Colorado—approximately 35 miles outside of Denver.

The latter story had to do with a teacher “on leave” due to showing the “highlights” of the video opera “Faust” to her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade classes. Let’s begin here: Tresa Waggoner, 33, showed her students the allegorical drama, of sin, temptation, and of excessive pride. She did this in order to prepare her students from a visit from Opera Colorado, but as fate had it, she received a call from a parent who chastised her, saying “'I basically do not understand why do you not let the kids sing Christmas songs at their winter concert, but you would teach them about the devil. Are you not a Christian?'” She, a first year music teacher, naturally informed her principal, Mark Reinsbach and gave him the video, which she had found on the shelf in her music room, it was titled Who’s Afraid of Opera. He later instructed her to write apology letters to the parents.

As a result, she is now on “permanently paid administrative leave,” and according to the by-line reporter, Tillie Fong, a substitute teacher has been hired to finish teaching the semester at the elementary school, and for the fall 2006, a new teacher has been hired. So, in effect, the Tresa Waggoner has been boxed in. This is known as being caught between a rock and a hard place. Clichéd—yes, but aptly situated. The district is afraid to “terminate” her because of a potential lawsuit, which there had been mention of a possibility if she was, but they also decide to curry the favor of the hypersensitive parents, just because the “devil” was mentioned (ooh) in an operatic instruction of music appreciation. Admittedly, I myself am not a connoisseur of the music, but I do have an admiration of great classical music. Good music is good music. The universality of music is the tie that brings communities together, whether they are small town Americana, or a ritual tribal dance, or a classical opera using a metaphor for love, hate, temptation, and life. Music speaks to our narrative heart. But in this case, for this teacher, the impact of classical exposure for her students seemed to rear the ugly head of ignorance and fear, which resulted in the co-option of the better angels of understanding. The conservative nannyists have stepped in to save the children from the “lesbian, devil worshipper.” E-gads! And, now she has been sent to her own version of purgatory; her options for searching for other employment are shunted until there’s resolution with Bennett school district.

The late social critic of education, Neil Postman, felt that the state of public schools lacked the perspective of the instructive narrative. To teach through narrative, metaphor, and allegory made for a better rounded student; and also, the element to a critical thinking person. However, apparent this may not be a desired result for Bennett, Colorado schools.

As a person, Tresa Waggoner, who has made a couple Christian music albums, sang in her church more than her half life, and taught choir at the middle and high schools, and yet she was and is not Christian enough. So, now she sits awaiting her fate. But it is okay the non-judgmental, accepting, and loving Christians will come to her aid, won’t they?

On the other hand, there is the case where the ACLU (American Civil Liberty Union), defended successfully, under the threat of a lawsuit, of course, the rights of a 16 year old, a junior, at Littleton High School. The school and the district decided to suspend the young man, Brian Lopez, for making “mocking comments” of the school, the district resources, and acquaintances, on his website, on his personal computer. They were even tried to expel the student for “violating” the Student Code of Conduct (pdf page 4), according Tillie Fong, who filed the initial reporting of the student’s suspension. It basically states that, the students are required to follow school policies on and off school grounds are not discriminate, harass, or intimidate others, or disruptive of the “educational process of the school.” If the student has a committed a criminal act, suspension and expulsion can be allotted, obviously. But what is interesting, the school and district deems themselves guardian over all student behavior, and this includes student using their personal computer.

Apparently, Brian Lopez sin was lampooning, again, on his personal computer, his school and students in a “crude and inappropriate fashion.” The site, unfortunately, has been taken down, but according to reports, and observations that this was satirical “prank.” If not for the hypersensitivity of a parent (sounds familiar doesn’t it?) Brian would not have been suspended. In fact, both stories reflect the hypersensitivity of one parent (or minority number of parents), one from left, and other from the right. Some have made the case that these mirror the conservative perspective, but I disagree, if one is willing to see the dialogue of the school policy of zero tolerance. In the school system earnest to protect all, it has sacrificed the educational process of the student’s individual narrative.

In preparing for this story, I realized that America was and is in crisis. The inability of Americans to recognize cautionary tales such as the opera Faustus or the inability to respect the principalities of freedom of speech has my faith wondering if we are reverting to a time irreparable polarization. The hypersensitive schools are being plied by both the right and the left of the political extremes. And, although we live in a time of crisis, the “war on terror” has relegated us to an overwrought paranoia that is crippling this country’s sense of community and trust. As friend stated, “There use to be a time, when we respected each other ideological perspective, and did not question one’s loyalty, or for that matter the motive…now the parties, individuals are so split, polarized, that it is difficult to have a dissenting opinion without be called a traitor, unpatriotic, or worse yet a liberal.” In other words, if you do have a different ideology, your motives are suspected.

Such suspicion has created a bipolar America, where the political extremes find themselves meeting at the same place——authoritarianism; a place where freedom of expression, ideals, and beliefs are demoralized, demonized, and demeaned. The Littleton student learned that, if you are critical, or criticize (there is a difference), even satirically, the price one might have to pay is their own liberty. And as for the teacher, she learned that sometimes directing young souls is troublesome when trying to open a child’s mind to discovery, especially when their parent’s mind is narrow and closed.

Nevertheless, the nannyist’s closed minds from each side are tearing down our children, dissembling their ability to find themselves, and destroying their capability in finding their own personal narratives. In so doing, the future is being sabotaged by the political correct police extremes by limiting the opportunities, choices, and discovery of our kids in which our next generation of artists, poets, leaders, and heroes will come. And so it goes, the next generation will face the uncertainty of the story, let us hope they are able to complete tale.

After all, it’s just another day in paradise, even if they succeed or …..

And the villain is Scooter Libby—huh

November 10, 2005

Some Passing Thoughts

Everybody who belief that Karl Rove did not have a hand in the demise Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame, please raise their hand?

I must admit Mr. Teflon, Rove, may have got off lucky. I guess he learned something from the last time he talked out of turn.

Now the question is how high did the cover-up go?

Why would Cheney tell of Plame status?

Did everybody, in the White House, point their finger at Scooter to protect the "two offices”?

Do we really believe that the vice president, and especially this vice president, and the president did not know?

Was this the strategy set in motion two years ago?

Or when the president redefined the definition of is? A la the Clinton proxy, that he would fire anyone who was involved in the outing of Plame?

The question is, I am sure, that if Fitzgerald had, if given more time, could he proof the connection of the triumvirate? I think he could have, with the last bit being aided by Judith Miller.

Did Scooter take one for the team?

And finally, a matter of concern for White House has been, is that they have not seen Rove's "A" game for the last six or seven months. Going backwards, Harriet Miers, Iraq-election, Wilma, Rita, Katrina, Iraq-convention, Creationism, Iraq, Terri Schiavo, Iraq, and the list goes on…

The stroke of Patriotism has been strung too taut and now the string is beginning to recoil. Unfortunately, I do not see these "brother-in-arms" not continuing to strike the chord. The question is: will they continue strike the cord until it breaks?

The self-implosion of the Republican Party continues, Frist, Delay, and along with the fiscal conservative rebellion are just the beginning. The immigration debate in the Southwest will affect the 2006 mid-terms, and Tom Tancredo, will have an impact, if not as a presidential candidate, certainly as a spoiler for the 2008 elections. The political malaise and unrest that is affecting the ego and attitude of Americans, and the resentment toward illegal immigrants could possibly set another factious split within the Republic Party.

I believe what we are seeing is "similar" to pre-War World II Germany, with Americans continual Faustian angst of the "others from the outside" (see the Fall television season) and their "feeling" of persecution, with uncertainty of their family survival, and the now "the friendly illegal immigrant" who brings along with them the enemy from the outside, and the unsecured gate (borders), are driving Americans fears….

And now the ineptness of our leaders (see the Deficit Spending, Katrina, and Harriet Miers) and the apparent dishonesty (see Scooter Libby) makes the country ripe for the similar tyranny to rise from a small factious group to be "elected…"

Well citizens, those are some of the off the cuff thoughts, perusing my through mind. Remember, "Tyranny is never ripped from the people, but given willingly," and like the boiling frog, where the heat is turned up slowly, America and Americans are slowly coming to a boil as the heat is being turned.

Review of the Epic of Gilgamesh

September 1, 2005

Gilgamesh Lived Like a Man

How to begin? The story of Gilgamesh, a legend, a myth, or a parable gives us a vehicle to examine how we view our own humanity. In the beginning we see the arrogance and the abruptness of a young king. He was brash, egotistical, and was immortal, in the sense, that no man, woman or child can tame the shrew. He felt superior to all. He filled his days and nights with self-indulgence. He was vain yet happy. He did what he wanted, when he wanted, and there was no one to oppose him. But his life was solitary, albeit filled with many pleasures of the flesh. He was a man, after all, who was two-thirds god and had achieved many feats through battle and learned the secrets of the gods that endowed him.

These feats made him legendary, and for a brief time the “darkness of mankind” ; an oppressor. He devalued his people; he violated their happiness, and usurped their own personal authority, because of his god-like power, and inequitable foes. His wants went unchallenged. No one could fathom his tempest passions, nor denied his desires. Gilgamesh thirsted for one as great as he—a companion. This need for a companion, to share his glory, left him as an empty vessel.

In comparison, the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” in some sense, can be reprised within the chronicles of democracy. In the view of the 1990’s, when the “end of history” tag line signaled the conclusion to the war for liberty. Democracy won. Communism failed. And the Western-American culture had prevailed leaving America as the lone super power willing to impart its might. A vacuum was born. And boredom followed the democracies of the planet. Old grudges that had been suppressed by the communism erupted. Western nations, especially the United States, were left to “police” the globe. In many ways, the US was the Gilgamesh of the 20th century, in that, some viewed America’s power as corruptive and bullying. Its culture, America’s, was considered crude, boorish, and wanton. The people of America seem to represent decadence; it had lost its opposite.

The United States’ counterpart equal in strength was the Soviet Union, at least in appearance, and its opposite in philosophy in how to tend to humanity. Nonetheless, the United States citizenry seemed oblivious to the global citizenry. Lost in its own pleasure and arrogance; living for only the moment, shorted sighted, the US thought that its tranquility was going to be immortalized.

The US like Gilgamesh needed an equal. He, Gilgamesh, found it in Enkidu. Desirable, beautified yet initially untamed by civilization. The “noble savage,” Enkidu, lived with nature, and was naïve in the works of man, but equitable in strength and arrogance. Gilgamesh had found a companion. The “wild beasts at water-holes,” of the forest had befriended Enkidu teaching him the ways of nature and he ran with them; he was brethren to the beasts. He knew not of sin and the ways of man and woman. The loss of Enkidu’s innocence and naivety resulted of being shunned by the animals because of the treachery of one man; who later became his companion. His comrade’s dream, vision of Gilgamesh’s, took away the happiness of Enkidu, but their love of one another replaced it.

In Gilgamesh, this love subdued his passion-of-the-moment and was transformed by Enkidu into “com-passion” . This companionship and compassion led to the feminization of Gilgamesh.

He, Gilgamesh, became the “source of light” for his people, and ultimately, Enkidu’s kinship led to the happiness of a king. In the case of Enkidu, however, the companionship of the king and the temple priestess; in the king, he found a love unfettered in competition and male bondage, in his woman, the wisdom of civilization. Yet Enkidu was lost without his brethren, the animals of the forest, his strength which was founded in nature later became his folly. Enkidu seeped into melancholy like a caged animal, but with Gilgamesh he found his salvation in the glory and the adventure for the conquest of the nature from which he was born. They together slay the “Bull of Heaven,” the protector of the forest, “Humbaba” bringing modernization of humanity to the great forest of cedar.

In parallel, Great Britain and the United States were similar to the epic poem. In bondage, the two countries wish to bring light to humanity, yet their ego and moralizing often left the planet cold. But the role of Enkidu, Great Britain, America’s companion, only tempered the US proselytizing. Britain survives, while Enkidu died for his loyalty; and the king grieved for his loss of his friend.
Nevertheless, the United States friendly attempts to democratize the planet have been a long arduous process, both in the cold war and for Fukuyama’s “end of history.” Thus, the latest round of “history” finds the globe embroiled between the choices of “active” libertarianisms and “active” theologies.

In my own personal life, I have come across many crossroads, and like Gilgamesh, I have found a life long friendship, who has taught me the meaning of compassion.

My best friend and I met several years ago, while I was working at local gas-convenience store. I have watched and envied him as he built his family and a successful career. He inspired me and I learned from him the true meaning of loyalty and empathy. And for the king, in the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” in the beginning, he was a chaotic adolescent, but by the end of his life he became a man. Gilgamesh learned that life was ephemeral but true immortality is found in the lives one touches.